At a time when the people in Karnataka are battling the pothole menace, the least they expect their state’s chief minister to do, is to speak responsibly.
When media persons asked Karnataka CM Siddaramaiah about the death of four persons in accidents this month that are blamed on the battered condition of roads in Bengaluru, the Karnataka CM simply responded: “What can we do”.
Rather than respond to the journalist, Siddaramaiah, sported a smirk and a smile on his face and asked: “You suggest us what should we do”.
When the journalist said that standard quality work was not being done by civic body BBMP due to rampant corruption, Siddaramaiah responded by saying “corruption is there in every field”
On Tuesday, a woman riding pillion on a two-wheeler was killed when a truck rammed the vehicle as the rider was trying to avoid a pothole near Devanahalli.
Three days ago, a woman was run over by a truck when the motorcycle she was riding pillion on, skidded near Nayandahalli while the rider (her nephew) was trying to negotiate a pothole.
About a week ago, an elderly couple lost their lives when a bus ran over them on Mysuru road flyover as they were trying to avoid a pothole. The couple was trying to rush their grandchild to a hospital and luckily the child survived the accident with some injuries.
The Karnataka government and Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP), the city civic body, came under sharp criticism following the incident. However, the condition of the roads elsewhere in the state, other than Bengaluru, is also in tatters.
On Monday, Chief Minister Siddaramaiah had blamed torrential rains for the potholes in Bengaluru and has promised to rid the city of potholes in a fortnight.
If we go back 5 years to Sep 2012, there was a concentrated campaign by Delhi-based media to highlight Bengaluru’s garbage crisis – the issue was incessantly played up on national channels and right on cue the Karnataka High Court also issued several ‘raps’ to the then BJP-led State Government over the issue.
Pothole related deaths in Bengaluru under Siddaramaiah’s rule is not an overnight development. Residents of the state have been complaining of shambolic civic maintenance & lawlessness for the last 4 years. The state has seen several high-profile suicides of top officials, some of whom directly blamed the Government ministers like KJ George for their deaths. But none of this was picked up by the English language media or the civil society lobby on the scale or the intensity that was reserved for grilling BJP, especially when BS Yedyurappa was CM, during the 2008-13 period when Karnataka had a BJP Government.
It was as if a switch was turned off and Karnataka became just another state, the moment a Congress Government was sworn in. This is is the power of the ecosystem that Congress has cultivated for 70 years. A sitting CM can brazenly justify corruption as a ‘normal’ phenomenon, and none of our intelligentsia will hold him accountable.
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